Whitney Quesenbery knows a well-designed ballot when she sees it: lower-case letters, left-aligned text, a clean sans-serif font. Quesenbery has been assessing ballot design for nearly two decades. Los Angeles County’s is one of the best she has seen. “Look at those instructions,” she says, admiring the ballot’s simple wording and standout color. “They’re beautiful.” A co-founder of the Center for Civic Design, Quesenbery regularly advises election boards on best practices for their ballots. Some places, like Los Angeles, have incorporated the design principles espoused by the center. But, Quesenbery says, many other counties are stuck using ballots that look as if they came out of the last century. “There are still people voting on pre-2000 voting systems,” she says. “I do.”
North Carolina: Elections Board Declines To Certify 9th District Race After Member Cites ‘Unfortunate Activities’ | WFAE
The 9th Congressional District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready is not over. The State Board of Elections Tuesday declined to certify the results of the race, even though all counties have certified their votes and Harris is ahead by 905 votes. The vice chair of the board, Joshua Malcolm, said he would no longer “turn a blind eye” to what he called “unfortunate activities.” Malcolm, a Democrat, dropped a bombshell. “I’m very familiar with the unfortunate activities that have happened in my part of the state,” Malcolm said during the meeting. “And I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding, which has been ongoing for a number of years, and which has been repeatedly referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys to clean up. Those things have not taken place.”
National: Here’s Why Blockchain Voting Isn’t the Solution Voters Are Looking For | Strategic Tech Investor
Now that we’re past Election Day, a certain sort of “silly season” has begun. I’m talking about folks coming up with big ideas on how to fix our outdated voting system. And one of the big ideas out there is using blockchain for voting. Let’s stop that conversation – now. The other day, the Twitter cryptoverse blew up after Alex Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, had his op-ed on the matter published in The New York Times. In it, Tapscott presents his case for using a blockchain to carry out online voting. He apparently believes such a process would be much more decentralized and safe from hacking. The only downside, he claims, is a potential delay in the voting process. Let me just tell you straight up: This is a terribly ill-considered idea, for a variety of reasons.
National: Americans just set a turnout record for the midterms, voting at the highest rate since 1914. This explains why. | The Washington Post
This November’s elections set a voter turnout record: 49 percent of the voter-eligible population showed up at the polls, the highest midterm turnout seen since 1914. Why? Most commentators have concluded it was because voters thought the stakes were sky-high. With congressional control in the balance at a time when politics is highly polarized, many Democrats and Republicans thought the outcome was all but life-or-death for democracy. Pre-election polls found that about two-thirds of Americansbelieved this election was the most important midterm in their lifetimes; 93 percent of voters in battleground districts said their vote mattered just as much as in a presidential election; and enthusiasm about voting was at its highest level in any midterm in more than two decades.
A coin toss could determine who controls the Alaska House. After the latest count, Republican Bart LeBon and Democrat Kathryn Dodge are tied in the race for the state house seat that represents downtown Fairbanks. There are a couple of steps that have to happen before the race could come down to a coin toss. On Friday, election workers will audit the remaining absentee ballots. If the vote count is still tied after that, then there will be a recount. And if the recount doesn’t change the results, state law mandates that the winner is determined “by lot.” That could take the form of a coin toss or another method of determining a winner by chance.
The Navajo Nation is seeking a court order to allow tribal members to fix problems with signatures on early ballots in Arizona’s general election — a request that could delay the state from certifying ballots next month. Voters statewide were given more time to address mismatched signatures after Republicans alleged in a lawsuit that Maricopa and Pima counties contacted voters illegally after Election Day about signatures on ballot envelopes that didn’t match those on the voter file. A lawsuit filed this week by the largest American Indian reservation makes a broader argument to count ballots that Navajos properly filled out but didn’t sign. It alleges Navajos have fewer opportunities to participate in early voting and not enough translators to tell tribal members with limited or no English proficiency how to complete early ballots so they aren’t thrown out. The tribe said more than 100 votes cast by Navajos were disqualified.
When a federal judge ruled Thursday not to suspend election recount deadlines across Florida in the races for U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner, he also had some harsh words to say about the state’s handling of the elections. “We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said. To many people, it seems little has changed in Florida since 2000, when the U.S. presidential race was decided by the Sunshine State more than five weeks after Election Day. Voting irregularities were also uncovered across the state. … Except for overseas and military ballots, mail-in votes must be in the county supervisor of elections office by the time the polls close on Election Day. Mail ballots are also vulnerable to problems with voter identification. More than 3,600 mail-in ballots cast on Nov. 6 were tossed out because of mismatched signatures, according to Florida Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews. That tally does not include some of the state’s largest counties, including Duval and Miami-Dade County.
As Florida suffered through nearly two weeks of election counts and recounts, the scale of the vote-tallying woes in some places became painfully evident. Three of Florida’s four largest counties — Broward, Palm Beach and Hillsborough — admitted to problems in their machine recounts so troubling that they either failed or refused to submit results by the state’s deadline. And little wonder. During the statewide machine recount, the number of votes counted in the Senate race in Broward County was 3,500 less than the initial tally. Among the culprits: the county elections office’s accidental omission of 2,000 early-voting ballots in the machine recount. In Palm Beach, elections officials conducting the recount found “dozens of precincts missing a significant number” of votes, something that county Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher blamed on malfunctioning vote-counting machines. That prompted a time-consuming redo, which Bucher said caused her office to fail to meet the deadline for the Senate race. Saddled with tabulating machines that could not recount more than one race at a time, she did not even begin the recount for the other races, making hers the only office in Florida to fail to complete its machine recount in the five days allowed.
Georgia: Nonprofit group, 3 voters file suit seeking new election for Georgia l The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Fewer votes were tallied for the Georgia lieutenant governor’s race than other statewide elections Nov. 6 due to problems with voting machines, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court. A second election is needed because of the voting flaws, the suit states. The declared winner for lieutenant governor was Republican Geoff Duncan, who had 1,951,738 votes to Sarah Riggs Amico’s 1,828,566. The lieutenant governor’s race reported 3,780,034 votes, while all other statewide races exceeded 3.843 million votes, the lawsuit states. The governor’s race tallied 3.939 million votes and the remaining eight statewide races averaged 3.86 million votes. The nonprofit, Colorado-based group called Coalition for Good Governance and three Georgia voters filed the suit, which names Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden, election officials in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, and Lt. Gov.-elect Geoff Duncan. The defendants were not available Saturday for comment on the suit.
For some reason, there were tens of thousands fewer votes cast in the Georgia lieutenant governor’s election than any other statewide race. A lawsuit alleges that the drop-off in votes indicates the election between Republican Geoff Duncan and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico was flawed and should be redone. Duncan won by more than 123,000 votes. The lawsuit, filed Friday by an election integrity advocacy group and three voters, blames the state’s 16-year-old direct-recording electronic voting system. About 80,000 fewer votes were counted in the lieutenant governor’s race than the average of ballots recorded in 10 statewide contests in the Nov. 6 election. “The only reasonable explanation for such an anomalous vote discrepancy … is that malfunctioning, erroneous programming or malicious manipulation of the DRE machines caused a material number of votes in the lieutenant governor’s race to not be recorded,” the lawsuit states.
Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin asked Monday for a recount in the 2nd Congressional District race he lost narrowly to Jared Golden, the Lewiston Democrat. Later in the day, Golden said, “Dragging this process out only hurts the people we were elected to serve.” Golden said in a prepared statement Poliquin is “within his rights to pay for a recount,” but is unlikely to prevail. … “Furthermore, we have become aware that the computer software and ‘black box’ voting system utilized by the secretary of state is secret,” he said. “No one is able to review the software or computer algorithm used by a computer to determine elections. This artificial intelligence is not transparent.” Dunlap scoffed at the secrecy argument. He said Poliquin’s campaign asked about the software used to count the ballots and was told the state had to keep details confidential for security purposes. “You don’t put something like that out there for hackers to use,” Dunlap said.
Mississippi: Civil rights group sues State over ‘burdensome’ absentee voting rules | Mississippi Today
A national civil rights group has filed a lawsuit against state officials over Mississippi’s absentee voting procedures, which “threaten to disenfranchise honest, eligible voters,” the suit alleges. The suit, filed last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in the state’s Southern District, seeks emergency relief on behalf of three Mississippi residents who will be away from home during Tuesday’s runoff election and intend to vote absentee instead. None of the three had received their requested ballots as of Nov. 20, stated the suit, which was also filed on behalf of the NAACP’s Mississippi chapter. But according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, computer records show that county officials downloaded ballots for two of the plaintiffs, William Sewell and Julianne Huber, on Nov. 17, the first day that those ballots could have been mailed out, the Associated Press reported.
When the federal government offered money to help states buy new vote-counting machines in 2002, Nebraska officials jumped at the chance. Nebraska used its share of the funding to create a statewide election system with new equipment for all 93 counties — including some remote, low-income areas that still hand-counted their ballots. Now, with machines that are outdated and increasingly difficult to repair, Nebraska lawmakers are largely on their own. “There’s no question it’s going to be a very challenging legislative session in terms of appropriations,” Secretary of State John Gale said in an interview.
Secretary of State Bill Gardner has had a decadeslong run as the legendary, hard-nosed guardian of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. But he may not make it through the Trump era. Gardner, a fixture in presidential politics after more than 40 years in office, may be on the verge of a bitter ouster from his job after supporting stricter voter eligibility requirements and participating in President Donald Trump’s ill-fated voter fraud commission. Though he has traditionally garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats — the Legislature selects the state’s secretary of state every two years — New Hampshire House Democrats overwhelmingly threw their support to a rival Democrat, Colin Van Ostern, in a preliminary caucus vote recently.
Democrats preparing to take control of New York’s legislature are plotting to overhaul voting and elections laws that were last updated to protect the power of Tammany Hall. Legislators and voting rights activists say New York’s laws are among the nation’s most antiquated. It is one of a minority of states that do not allow voters to cast a ballot before Election Day, and its absentee ballot laws are among the most restrictive in the country. After notching big gains in the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic leaders who will take over the state Senate in January say they will act on a handful of measures meant to update those laws.
Emboldened by a referendum voters approved this month, North Carolina’s soon-dwindling Republican majorities at the legislature will scramble to approve their preferred voter identification law before Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper can stop it. The GOP-dominated General Assembly returns to work Tuesday to decide how a new amendment to the state constitution requiring photo ID to vote in person will be carried out. The amendment passed with more than 55 percent of the vote, giving Republicans confidence to move ahead despite years of controversy in the state over such a mandate. Meeting now is strategic. Democrats won enough legislative seats Election Day to end the Republicans’ veto-proof control come January. So Cooper, a longtime opponent of voter photo ID laws, won’t be able to stop any lame-duck session bills as long as Republicans remain united. New restrictions, on which courts probably will weigh in, would affect over 7 million voters in the anticipated 2020 presidential battleground state, which will also feature races for governor and U.S. Senate that year.
Editorials: 4 ways North Carolina lawmakers can make a voter ID bill less than awful | News & Observer
Voter ID laws are an awful way to protect the integrity of elections. They address a problem that isn’t a problem — the North Carolina board of elections found one case in 4.8 million votes cast in 2016 that photo ID would have addressed — and they disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of potential voters who don’t have the documents, money or time to obtain an ID. Voter ID is even more troublesome in the hands of North Carolina’s Republican legislators, who have shown a remarkable capacity to craft voting laws that are unconstitutional, racially discriminatory and inevitably slapped down by federal judges. Still, NC voters decided this month to give the legislature another try, approving an amendment to the NC Constitution that allows lawmakers to draw up a new voter ID law without having to get the governor’s approval.
More communities are taking part in audits of voting equipment in Wisconsin this year. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is requiring audits of voting equipment in 5 percent of the state’s wards and at least one in every county. Commission spokesman Reid Magney said audits were expanded due to concerns over election security. “There are a number of national groups that have determined post-election audits are a best practice, that states should be verifying the results of elections before they’re certified,” said Magney. “Our commission has taken that to heart and used an existing audit that we already do to start meeting that best practice.” For the first time this year, the audits must be completed before the state certifies election results next month.
Election officials in Afghanistan are considering delaying next year’s presidential election by several months, amid disarray in counting votes from last month’s parliamentary balloting. Holding presidential elections by April 20 was previously one of international donors’ red lines in Afghanistan, especially after an embarrassing four-year delay in holding parliamentary elections. Now, however, some politicians and observers are suggesting that the electoral fiasco might help encourage peace talks with the Taliban, who are unlikely to agree to a deal if a new president is about to be elected for a five-year term. Three officials at the Independent Elections Commission confirmed on Sunday that discussions were underway on a potential delay for the presidential vote, but they insisted no decision had been made.
The Labor government in the Australian state of Victoria won an unexpectedly large majority in an election that analysts say is a warning to the country’s ruling conservative government ahead of national polls due in six months. Victoria is Australia’s second most populous state, and the poll is seen as a barometer of voter sentiment towards the nation’s conservative Liberal and National government. The governing coalition has been a minority government since October when they lost their one-seat majority after former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, ousted by conservatives in a party-room coup, resigned.
Counting is under way in Bahrain after polls have closed in Saturday’s parliamentary election from which opposition groups were barred in a crackdown on dissent in the Western-allied kingdom. More than 350,000 Bahrainis were eligible to vote, according to Justice Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, adding that there were 54 polling stations across the country. According to Bahraini state television, turnout for the election was 67 percent, the Reuters news agency reported. In advance of the vote, however, activists and members of the banned opposition parties called for a boycott of what they describe as “farce” elections, raising doubts about the credibility of the polls. The government says the elections are democratic
Hong Kong’s democratic opposition failed to win back a crucial legislative council seat in an election on Sunday that would have restored some of its veto power at a time when the China-ruled city’s freedoms are under strain. The democratic camp’s main candidate, Lee Cheuk-yan, lost to Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan, a pro-Beijing candidate backed by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), by around 13,000 votes, or about 6 percent of the total. Another democrat, Frederick Fung, who ran as an independent after a row with the opposition camp, split the vote to the benefit of the pro-establishment DAB.
The long-delayed and long-awaited race for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) presidency shifted into a new gear this week with the official launch of the candidates’ electoral campaigns. Exactly a month from now, some 40 million people, about half of the resource-rich country’s population, are expected to finally elect a new president after two years of postponements, uncertainty and turmoil. Outgoing President Joseph Kabila has controversially remained in office even though his second consecutive and final constitutional term officially expired in 2016. While Kabila insisted the election delays were due to challenges enrolling millions of voters and financial constraints, his refusal to step down sparked violent rallies in which dozens of protesters were killed.
Presidential hopeful Marc Ravalomanana has lodged over 50 complaints at Madagascar’s top court about the conduct of presidential polls to “correct irregularities,” sources close to his campaign said on Tuesday. Neither Ravalomanana nor his arch-rival Andry Rajoelina won the 50% of votes required for a first-round victory following the November 7 election, according to results published on Saturday. The run-off vote is scheduled for December 19. “We’re not seeking a victory in the first round of voting, just to correct irregularities in the results,” said a member of Ravalomanana’s legal team who requested anonymity.
The ruling party in Taiwan received a message this weekend to show more achievements, including engagement with the island’s old nemesis China, as the opposition camp swept midterm elections. The Democratic Progressive Party of President Tsai Ing-wen lost all but six mayoral and county magistrate seats Saturday, the first electoral test of its two years in the presidency. Fifteen seats went to the opposition Nationalist Party, which wants closer ties with China. The ruling party advocates for more distance. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, causing decades of friction between the two sides. “I think if this year, in 2018, if the Nationalists smoothly win Taiwan’s city and county elections, that has some warning effects on the party in power, to let them know they’ve made mistakes in the past two years,” said Taipei voter Hong Wei-chi, 40, a marketing specialist. Tsai stepped down Saturday night as party chief, though retaining the presidency, to take what she described as “full responsibility” for the election losses. Her premier also offered to resign, and the Central Election Commission head quit over the slow processing of ballots.